Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

ALEXANDER  "VON   HUMBOUDT.                229
image of the sun.     The geographical situation of the
rocks may have contributed to their naming for the
Kari   stands  westward,  the   Camosi   eastward.    The
waterfalls  of Maypuros do not consist, like the cata-
ract  of Niagara,  in the  single fall   of  an immense
volume of water, nor of narrow passes through which
the   stream   flows with increased   velocity, like  the
Pongo of Manseriche in the Amazon, but it presents
a countless number of small cascades which rise, lad-
der like, above each other, and are formed of a, real
archipelago of little islands and rocks, which often lie
so thickly together on the eight thousand feet broad
bed of the river, that scarcely twenty feet of navigable
water is left. Every rock or step is from 2 to 3 feet high,
the   most notoriously  dangerous,  called  Piirimasimi
and Manimi, are nine feet high, and yet the Indians
venture to ride down the stream through the water-
falls in a slight boat, and when they go Ltp the stream
they swim in advance, throw a rope with infinite dex-
terity round a rock projecting from the surge, and
then draw tip the vessel, which is generally filled with
water or turned over.    The boat is often dashed to
pieces on the rocks, and the boatmen then endeavour
to save their bleeding bodies from the waves by reach-
ing the   nearest   shore.    As   the  real fall of water,
according to Humboldt's measurement, is only from
28 to 30 feet, the dreadful noise and wild tossing of the
waves is not the consequence of the fall, but of the
counter-current, which is caused   by  the   form and
position of the rocks.
As Humboldt was descending to the bed of the
river over the rock Manimi, he enjoyed a splendid
view over a foaming surface miles long, from which
black rocks projected. Every rock, every islet rising
above the water's surface, was ornamented with luxu-
rious high forest trees, and a dense mist floats Sex-
ually over the falls. Through the cloud of foam the
point of the palm trees is seen, and when tte ardent
evening sun was reflected in the moist mis^ it pre-
sented an optical painting like an ethereal picture> ia